Croatia 3 Denmark 0
Croatia dispelled theories that they could be to Euro 96 what Colombia were to USA 94 by coasting into the quarter-finals here last night. What was ultimately an embarrassingly easy win, with Davor Suker scoring twice and creating another, shed more light on the tournament's enigmas. It also left Denmark, the holders, unsure of advancing even if they beat Turkey in their final Group D game.
Several of the Croatia team were part of the Yugoslavia squad whose place at Euro 92 was taken by Denmark. They had played down suggestions that there was a residue of resentment, but the opening exchanges were notable for some rugged challenges on the Danes.
Mario Stanic, a Bosnian born Croat, was the chief culprit, lunging in high on Michael Schjonberg as early as the third minute and late on Jes Hogh before the 20th. The second foul earned a caution. In between, Zvonimir Boban caught Michael Laudrup in the most delicate part of his anatomy but received the benefit of the doubt from the referee.
Croatia, who gave a start to Goram Vlaovic after his match-winning cameo against Turkey, began to weave their intricate triangles. Vlaovic and Suker appeared to have a telepathic understanding, while Derby's new recruit from Hajduk Split, Aljosa Asanovic, sprayed passes from midfield with laser precision.
Suker, having sent one drive on to the roof of Peter Schmeichel's net, then selflessly fed his partner, who turned Thomas Helveg only to see his low shot held by the keeper. Vlaovic also tumbled theatrically as Schmeichel beat him to Asanovic's through-ball, receiving a yellow card for his trouble. In response, the Danes mustered only a wide long-range drive from Kim Vilfort before the break.
West Ham's Slaven Bilic, dissecting the square Danish defence with a pass so sweet that the crowd's teeth were at risk, sent Stanic clear. Schmeichel, plunging the midfielder's feet as he struggled to control the …